Dunlop's unbeaten run ended by formidable Manor Park fightback
TO fully analyse and appreciate this unexpected but truly brilliant Manor Park victory – the starting point would be seven days ago.
Huddled together with heads down and harsh words being spoken in the aftermath of being humbled by the division’s bottom club Bromyward, morale was rock bottom.
‘Turning points’ maybe sporting cliché but the boys in red and black needed their attitudes to change and their luck to turn.
What captain Chris Goode
needed was a response. Starting with a focused mid-week training session. He got that much.
What he hoped for next was fortune on the injury front. No such luck. Every 50/50 fitness battle ended with that dreaded phone call or text message. Yet still Park had a group of 18 capable of challenging previously-unbeaten Dunlop.
Boom – another player goes down in the warm up. A prop is moved to the blindside flank, a flanker into the centre and a bench is one short of a full compliment.
One can only imagine the thoughts going through captains and coaches’ minds.
Yet fast forward to quarter to four as the Manor Park boys headed back to the pavilion to belt out the words to the club song, the emotions couldn’t have been in starker contrast to a week earlier.
Since their relegation from Midlands 2 West South, visitors Dunlop had won all five of their league games back at Level 8 rugby and had already tasted victory against Park in a Warwickshire Shield match-up in early September.
Those quiet feelings of dread were increased as the visitors took an early lead after the kick off wasn’t dealt with and Dunlop took full advantage.
, back in the side after missing out on the Bromyard beating the previous week, kicked two penalties to give his side a one-point lead.
It wasn’t to last long, however, as Dunlop scored a second try out wide and when a clearance kick was charged down, gathered and touched down over the line – Park were 17-5 behind and staring down the barrel of a long afternoon at the Griff and Coton.
With Michael Kemp
, Mark Wickett and Gary Hykin
back in the pack, Park had ammunition to make inroads. A powerful rolling maul allowed Matt Green
the chance to touch down and bring Park to within six points at the break.
Dunlop regained their two-score lead through a penalty kick but Morewood hit back with a place kick of his own.
The forwards then repeated the trick from the closing passages of the first half to rumble Green over for his second of the afternoon in front of members of his family in attendance.
Morewood’s conversion gave Manor a one point lead and all of a sudden Dunlop were looking at the consolation of a losing bonus point for their afternoon’s efforts.
This was denied them as Goode added a late third try and Morewood boomed over the extras to give Park a 28-20 lead.
The closing minutes were closed out effectively to earn only a second win of the season that creates a six-point advantage over Old Wheatleyans in the relegation zone.
With a fortnight’s rest from competitive action ahead of the next challenge, a coach trip to Ledbury, Park can look forward with optimism ahead of the final four games of the calendar year.